tv U.S. Senate CSPAN November 16, 2011 9:00am-12:00pm EST
thing to do but i will tell you in two years, the short-term development in that state is an example. i didn't mean to get on my energy branch. i just think energy both non renewable and renewable is incredible short-term and long-term opportunity that we have underestimated in this country and we continue to spend billions with countries that hate us. in order to get energy supply to this country. makes no sense to me. may be as the budgetary -- i will tell you, these are just federal treasury reaping the benefits of developments in hundreds of billions of dollars. ..
>> a thank you, mr. chairman. i have to hop in on the oil of energy bandwagon. this isn't a mr. toomey why we're not creating jobs, why oregon is not going. as a businessperson i was making those investment decisions for 31 years. take a look at our regulatory environment. if you want and what we can build the pentagon in nine months, because all the regulation is trying to build some in this country. do you think we can do hoover dam again? why does president obama kick the can down the road on the keystone xl pipeline? government regulation. we are killing ourselves. we are doing it to ourselves.
so i guess when i take a look at to testimony, with all due respect, i couldn't disagree more with your conclusions. my own experience again in making those investment decisions, if you allow business owners to keep more money, they will invest it. recent history in terms of short-term stimulus, isn't it true that basically what happened was a lot of the statements dollars, consumers because of their fear basically deleverage? they didn't stimulate the economy. isn't that by and large correct? >> so, we expected some of that money would be saved. know, in retrospect, we can track those particular dollars. >> but we can see we did a payroll tax holiday. we've extended unemployment benefits and it hasn't worked. all we have done is incurred an additional $4 trillion worth of debt, another trillion dollars coming on board this year. was preventing businesses from
investing is the fear that, the end result of all those debt and deficits, when government spends more money than it has, we know as business people eventually government is going to take, they will tax you more or create inflation. and that's why the business community is simply not investing. i mean, don't you basically agree with that conclusion? >> senator, we believe and have written in this does want that uncertainty about future government policy, future tax spending policies, future regulatory policies are a factor that is restrained businesses decisions to invest and hire and help, spin. we don't think that's a principal factor. for example, surveys of small businesspeople done by the national federation of business shows that the main difference in the obstacles that this is his report themselves facing today relative to a few years ago is a weakness in demand for their product.
>> because everybody is afraid of a european contagion, the exact same thing will happen in the training that is happening in greece, and italy here they are afraid of that. again what i want to concentrate on its debt and deficit. i want to talk about the real risks. i don't think we are acknowledging in this country, let's first start out by not achieving the growth target the cbo estimates. i have no idea how to come up with your estimates. i'm assuming in this analysis uses similar estimates, we are not going to achieve that growth. i think your estimate is for every .1% reduction in growth, we add $310 billion in 10 years. >> that sounds right. >> so if it's only 1% less, that's $3.1 trillion over 10 years, correct? >> yes. >> i've seen other studies if you only grow girl at 2.5% that will add $5 trillion drug debt and deficit. that's a significant risk,
correct? >> yes, no doubt. you can see in the pictures which showed today, we have a wideband for each of these policies because we recognize the uncertainty of the analysis that we are doing. >> not a whole lot of people are talking about every significant risk. why is that? are which is afraid to acknowledge it because all we are doing, all we are doing in the super committee is trying to come up with $1.2 trillion in reduction, the rate of growth we are spending. >> i guess from my perspective people are talking about that risk. they have not reached agreement as far as i know, and so congress has not enacted some legislation to reduce the deficit by more than what was done in the budget control act over the summer. my sense is people are talking about it a lot, but that agreement on how to address it remains elusive. >> people are certainly fearing it. let me go to another area of significant risk and this is exactly going into the cbo
projections which i just think are totally wrong when it comes to health care act. according to cbo only 3.6 million people are estimated to lose their employer sponsored care. how do you ever come up with 3.6 million people? what economic model came up with that number? >> our model takes account of incentives facing households and businesses to get insurance coverage through various possible avenues. and other people who build the models of the insurance, health insurance market, have actually reached rather similar conclusions two hours about the effects of health legislation. that includes the actuaries, researchers at the of institute, at rand and other places. and it does surprise many people that we don't show a larger loss of employer-sponsored insurance coverage. i think it's worth remember near most people now receive and will continue to receive significant
subsidies to buy health insurance through their employer, through the tax code. >> let me stop you. have you seen your predecessor douglas holtz akin's matrix which proves conclusively that economically it's in the employers and employees best interest for 35 million people to get dumped off their employer-sponsored getting to put in the exchange is? have you seen a steady? >> we have seen his analysis but we resent very different conclusion. as i was saying, for most workers, they would get no or smaller subsidies to the new insurance exchanges. they receive through the tax code. they don't have an incentive to go to the exchange is. >> analysis with decreased our deficit by over half ago dollars but in the second 10 years 1.4 trying. when i saw this matrix with someone who bought health insurance for 31 years, i called him up and i said doug, this is a pretty good analysis, but you're still wrong. he said let me run through what the real decision factors going to be.
as an employer and can someone who's been buying health care for years, according to cbo in 2016, the average cost to family will be $15,000. which by the way is $2100 more expensive than it would've been if we have not passed the health care law. let's put that aside. $15,000. an employer now be taking a look at what i can pay $15,000, or i could do a $2000 penalty. and with the health care act are no longer throwing my employees in holes. i'm making them eligible for very large subsidies. in the case of somebody making safety $4000 a year which is bide with $13,000 more than median income, that's a $10,000 subsidy. the fact of the matter is we've had the mckinsey study that showed 50% of employers that are informed are planning on dropping coverage very shortly after this health care act takes effect when that happens, that's
half, 189 people get their insurance through their employer-sponsored care. half of them will be 90 many people at about $4000 subsidy, that cost over $400 billion a year as opposed to the 95 million, billion. isn't that pretty accurate? >> so senator, you are right that employers put their workers into the insurance exchanges but not throwing them to the wolves in the same since they would be without exchanges in place. nonetheless, their employees would be forgoing very large taxes. majority of people, of workers, who would have employer-sponsored health insurance without that law are eligible for no subsidy to the insurance exchanges. substantial subsidies. so there's no reason for a firm to put them into the exchange. that is against the interests of the workers. >> know, but it's in the interest of the employer. and again, the decision is 15,000, or pay 2000, and make my
employees eligible for $10,000 subsidy. and again, the surveys show employers better informed 50% was a they'll drop coverage. how can you continue to deny that? by the way as result, totally understate what our true risk to debt and deficit are 10 years, going out 10 years? we are really misleading the american people on this matter. >> i disagree with you senator, i don't think we're misleading american people. there's a great deal of uncertainty and we've said that every time we talk about them. but it is not to that for most workers that are eligible for substantial subsidies through the insurance exchanges -- >> your own cbo show the average cost, will be $7000. of this 3.6 when people the average -- >> eligible. >> i have passed my time. >> those eligible are a minority of workers. we read that survey. we have read other surveys. for what it's worth, when cbo
estimate the effects of adding the prescription drug benefit to medicare, a number of years ago, we estimate an assessment of how many employers would stop providing coverage to retirees and other retirees only get drug coverage through medicare, and shortly after we did the estimate there were surveys on which a lot more employers said they would drop coverage than we estimate it. but effect at the end of the day fewer employers drop coverage and cbo estimation. [talking over each other] >> i understand. in light of the surveys, 50%, 90 million people. 50%. and you're going to stick your 3.6 million estimate? do you think that's a good estimate? >> senator, we are always the fight with our estimates and taking on new information. we talked to the already about provisions being made to our estimates of the effects of the sort of fiscal policies we're talking about today. so we are not a first to change evidence.
when we find compelling they will make a change. >> sorry, mr. chairman,. >> no, i think it was a valuable exchange. we need it. the country needs a. and we've got to be, it's important to have this debate. senator whitehouse. >> thank you, chairman. mr. elmendorf, welcome. if the debt of our country is so important, and i think it's pretty widely believed around the senate that it is, and if that debt, which is so important, can be reduced from two sides, it can be reduced by spending less, and it can be reduced by revenue increase.
if that is the fact, that debt is so important and you can reduce it either with increased revenues for with spending reductions in the environment, why is it so important that the highest income americans pay lower actual tax rates than regular working americans actually pay? and to illustrate the point that the highest income americans play lowell actual tax rate than regular americans do, i look at the irs data from atop 400 income earners earned over a quarter of a billion dollars cash record of the million dollars each and i want to say they did 18.2% all in federal tax rate, and for rhode island at least, that equates to a regular taxpayer it's about
$47,000 in income, what a truck driver in rhode island makes. so you've got the debt, the tax rate increases that your income increases to the point, and you cross through that 18.2% barrier and you hit about $40,000 which is as i said a truck drivers bureau of labor statistics average pay in rhode island, and then you go out to the floor in what people need over a quarter of a million dollars and they're paying the same 18%. why is that so important to our economic prosperity, that we have this tax code in which super high-end income earners are paying such low tax rates? >> senator, you ask the question as if i have said it, with some pics are just to be clear i don't think i said the things you're asking me to justify your. >> maybe there's a rhetorical
cast in my question. >> on a factual matter, i would say by our estimate the average federal tax rate, so all federal taxes, income, payroll, corporate tax and so on, as a share of household income rises as one moves up the income distribution. and we report every year or so, we go to the top 1% and estimate the top 1% as a higher average top rate than the top 5% which is-the top 10% and so on. whether it is higher pashtun high enough for your preferences, i can't judge. economists think with anything substantial evidence that tax rate effect people's behavior and a higher tax rates on work, income from labor and labor affect how much people say. so in setting tax rates that are multiple objectives, usually the policymakers are trying to balance. >> was our information wrong
that shows the 400 highest income earners paid only 18.2% of the most recent years and the year before that there was most recently calculated was only 16 with 7% which equates to a hospital orderly in rhode island? if you look at the famous helmsley billy which is big enough to be its own zip code, the irs also reports by zip code, they were at 14 with 7% overall and their doormen and their janitors pay higher tax rates, how does that square with your figures? those are actual irs reported dollar numbers. >> if i haven't looked at that, they are reporting actually what they're reporting, cyprus and there some difference in what concept to a reporting, concert that we are reporting that it is to the last time we release was 2007, and i note from our books have look at their data, that incomes at the top of change over the last two years. and maybe that is part of a
change the tax rates in the past two years. it's also possible the irs is looking only at certain taxes picnic benches income tax, looking at the broader measure of taxes. i don't know, senator, but am happy to have us look into that for you and see if we can explain the differences. >> here's what interests me. we just went to a very considerable exercise here in the senate trying to pass jobs legislation. we had the president original jobs bill. that was filibustered, then we went to different elements of it. and until the veterans peace they have all been filibustered. this was jobs legislation that would create real jobs. it was paid for. it was paid for so it wouldn't add to the debt in anyway. it was paid for in a way that required an additional
contribution from americans who are making more than a million dollars a year, but only on income over a million dollars a year that they were making. so, and over that point, it got filibustered. is there an economic rationale for stopping those jobs bills in order to protect the over $1 million income of over $1 million income earners? does that work through cbo foremost to be a win for the economy when you have protected the income from taxation, and cost the american economy the jobs that would have been created? >> we didn't analyze the aspect of those bills i can't issue. my guess is that if we did analyze it we would find that those bills would spur out employment in the next few years
because stimulative effects of additional spending would probably outweigh, in our estimates, the negative effects of a higher tax rate. over the next two years. over the longer-term. than the disincentive effects of higher tax rates would tend to end additional debt, we tend to be a drag on the economy. and then back, one good way that off against the short-term economic gains and one could wave it off against a judicial objectives that one has in the longer run and so on. >> let me close by observing, mr. chairman, there's been a certain amount of criticism of the reinvestment act here for only having stopped the employment crash that president obama inherited without having recovered from it. and i would say that clearly it
would be better if we could have recovered from it more rapidly, but it is important i think that we stopped that jobs crash. i think we were at seven, 800,000 jobs being eliminated every month in the middle of the jobs crash when the president took office. and just to bring it home to rhode island, for the 11,000 families that had a member getting a paycheck because of the reinvestment act for the 11,000 families who had that and for the coffee shop and grocery store and the toy store and the mechanic that they were all able to go and pay for goods and services from, we were actually pretty glad that reinvestment act took place, and i think those 11,000 families would feel that they had one heck of a worse time without it.
and so would the communities around them who would not have received the benefit of their income as they went around and spent it the way that people do. rhode island is not a big state, 11,000 folks with a job instead of being on the unemployment line, 11,000 families with a paycheck instead of not. that's pretty real and i think we shouldn't underestimate that. thank you. >> well stated. mr. wyden. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i commend you, mr. chairman for a good income and afford one, particularly timing because of the super committee. that's what a want to ask you about, dr. elmendorf, because fortunately in the super committee, one of the issues that is very much in play is the prospects of pro-growth tax reform. you and i have talked about it before but i want to walk you through a different aspect of it because it goes right to the heart of this debate about stimulus, particularly stimulus right now. as you know, over the last five
years, i've had the chance to work with two colleagues on the other side of the aisle, certainly call themselves conservatives. senator gregg, former senator gregg and senator coats, and senator begich, two democrats and two republicans have worked on this over the last five years. and i want to talk about the stimulative affect what would happen if tax reform was enacted, certainly in 2013. in other words, there is discussion about the time of 2012 and 2013, but let's talk about, say, 2013. under the legislation that i put together, bipartisan effort, if you're a couple that makes $50,000 a year, $60,000 a year, $70,000 a year, you would get permanent tax relief, permanent tax relief, of three to $4000 a
year, the typical person. that comes about largely, we tripled the standard deduction for those families. so the couple now gets about $10,000, or triple, $30,000. what that means for a couple making 60 or $70,000 a year, it in effect puts half their income off limits from taxation. my sense is that would be, based on your analysis at page 26 of the report, fiscal policy options for assisting households would be a pretty good stimulus for the economy, if that was to be enacted so it applied in 2013. do you want to walk me through that? because it certainly ties to other things that you've said in the past in terms of business decisions, with respect to investment and hiring, depending
on the demand for their products, and greater demand and production leads to more investment and hiring, sort of economics 101. it seems to me they would be significant stimulative affect in cutting income taxes permanently for those folks in those kind of income brackets, 50, $60,000, and also people making 30, $35,000 as well which is significantly more tax refund without legislation. why don't you give me your assessment of the stimulative effects here. >> as you know we have not tempted to analyze the economic effects that arise recovery to tax reform that you have developed. but you're right that reduction in taxes, especially if they are reviewed as permanent reductions would tend to spur spending by those households. further down the income
distribution or the less wealth, less assets held by households, the more likely it is to be spent. that's why we expect that increases in the aid to unemployed would have a particularly large bang for the buck. but for further households as well, additional income would tend to raise their spending. of course, would have to keep track of all the aspects of your proposal to know how that would net out but i think the challenge you describe is certainly certainly one that would take back. >> i appreciate that and i think it's a fair, but it's part of the reason i ask, you're right when you look at comprehensive, you have to look at all the pieces of the postal. this is something that hasn't gotten much of the discussion in the over all debate about tax reform. part of it i guess would be my fault because i probably ought to be mentioning it more often
every time the topic comes up. but it has not been particularly controversial. but i do hope, particularly in light of the answer and what you say in outlining the option there in page 26. people see this as an opportunity for real stimulus that would not raise the deficit, number one, but would generate more revenue, which as you know is something that your companion organization, joint tax found with legislation that my -- with senator gregg and senator coats. any sense of what families making 50, 60, $70,000 would do in terms of their purchases if their taxes were cut in the vicinity, what i'm talking about, 50%? my sense is they would go out
and make those kinds of, you know, consumer purchases, consumer durables that had a big economic multiplier. so let's have to analyze this in terms of the air you have looked at, which is largely the lower income brackets, a bit lower than i'm talking about, let's say 30, $35,000, but doesn't the evidence showed they go out and make purchases in areas like consumer durables that have pretty good multiplier? >> i think, senator, i mean their interest in doing large-scale purchases depended partly on their expectations going forward. but your statement under your proposal, these would be permanent features, would certainly amplify the effects on their large-scale purchases of this what you're describing. and in general as we've said a number of times, and many members of the committee have said, the uncertainty about what will happen the u.s. fiscal policy, but the tax people will
face, government programs, benefits might be cut, deficit reduction effort, is a component of the uncertainty that's facing households and firms and to determine their spending. our sins, a large uncertainty, people face in incomes before tax, the demand for products and so on. but inserting about government policy is important and the extent to which that can be resolved through any actions of the congress or reduce the uncertainty of the congress that certainly we think would be a good thing for the economy. >> i'm glad you mentioned that with respect to the judgment of individual, because i think individuals much like businesses are in the general mode of being cautious. they don't know what's going to happen, and they look at yet another proposal that is temporary in nature. i've had people come up to me and say run, these temporary ideas, what's going to happen is
when y'all are done with your temporary ideas, everybody would just go back to fighting. and then they see the economy not building up a sustained recovery. so i think the points that you have made today need to ring loudly in this debate about tax reform, and i appreciate your going through this with me here because i think the chance is part of permanent tax reform that in effect put off limits from taxation, 50% of what households make, whether making 30, 40, 50, 60, $70,000 is a chance to really change behavior in the marketplace, because people will see it is not just another temporary proposition. so i think this is very helpful and i'm going to try to get your message to the super committee, and with your answers, try to highlight this as we go into the last days debating the opportunity for the super
committee to pass pro-growth tax reform that could kick in exactly the kind of timetable that you identified in your important report. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i want to thank the senator from oregon. i just want to say publicly that the senator from oregon is one of the most constructive members on this committee and in the body. and i appreciate the really extraordinary amount of work that the senator has put out on the major controversies and challenges facing the country, whether it is tax policy, whether health care policy, trade policy, it really is quite extraordinary that the senator who does not have the staff of a chairman of the committee has put out very significant plans in a bipartisan way that are really well thought through. and i just want to say that the senator deserves all of our commendation for producing
really solid work. and big amounts of it. senator merkley. >> thank you very much, mr. chair, and thank you, mr. elmendorf. i appreciate the work here to analyze strategies for increasing economic growth and unemployment. i was looking through to see if there was any specific analysis of addressing energy-saving retrofits. i don't believe that it is there. i have a memory of a previous cbo product which looked at various strategies for creating jobs. and my name is that energy-saving retrofits was at the top of the list, and if i recall by the analysis of what like this. there isn't a long time lag that you have for major
infrastructure, that the construction industry is flat on its back and ready to be put back to work, that the labor cannot be outsourced so the dollars that occur here in the united states, that virtually all the materials that are necessary for energy-saving retrofits are manufactured in the u.s. so there's extraordinarily low leakage. i thought all this was analysis that was behind cbo's analysis of this, this piece of the puzzle. i didn't see that in here. maybe i'm misremembering that cbo had looked at that as a job creation strategy, maybe was in some other think tanks proposal. but has to be a look at that issue? >> i'm sorry, senator, i don't remember having written about that. but i might be mistaken if we can check to be sure. the factors you describe are important factors in this sort of analysis. whether the workers are
available, who need jobs who can do this sort of work, extent to which certain sorts of products are imposed -- imported or not commander pics of the factors you describe sound like part of an analysis of the sort we do, but i don't remember that particular piece i'm afraid. >> okay, thank you. if cbo hasn't analyzed that, i might request in whatever fashion is necessary that you would take a look at that, because it certainly, we are looking for specific strategies that maximize the bang for the buck in terms of job creation. and i would certainly like to know if that is a strong cost-effective strategy. let me go on to a macroeconomic concern that i have. so this is less about things that we can do in the next year or the year after than it is about the trends over the last decade or what possible he might
happen over the next decade. what i see happening in oregon manufacturing is a tremendous amount of jobs going overseas. a piece of this is that, where as we envisioned that china coming in wto would create an opportunity to increase our manufactured to sell products to a rising middle class in china. we didn't fully anticipate how aggressive china would be in subsidizing their own manufacturing for export that would compete strongly, and it in some cases undermined american manufacturing ranging from the currency to the direct loans, direct grants, and subsidized loans to the subsidized utilities, subsidized land and so forth. so we have a tremendous number of us was that a shutdown in oregon and across the country, about 50,000 factors. combine that with another trend, which is the enhancement in computer control, robots if you will, for building things.
i was fascinated to go to a shop that makes knives in oregon, and some cases you have people feeding the blades into the machine, flipping them over and reheating them. other cases you have a mechanical arm, computer arm that is picking up the plates, grinding it in a bunch of different ways, dropping it into another bucket, no human involved at all. and as the technology becomes cheaper, it poses a fundamental question, which is when you have machines that simply increase productivity by a factor of, say, five, 10% and gradual changes, well then, wages went up in post-world war ii period. but when machines complete start to replace the worker, it fundamentally changes whether or not there are jobs that create living wage opportunities for american families. so combining the loss of jobs to
china, and the loss of jobs, not just enhancement, but full replacement workers, poses some fundamental challenges to us in how we are living wage jobs. so i've wanted to throw that out there and see if, i realize you were doing kind of more short-term look, but how this might feed into that longer-term concern. >> senator, as you said, in general, automation has raised productivity in a way that is greatly enhanced most americans standard of living. but it's also true as you note that certain sorts of changes can change the distribution of output in a way that may take it away from some people and give it to others, essentially. and, in fact, the leading explanation that economists offer for the widening of the distribution of wages and incomes, much of the income distribution over the past
several decades is the shifts in technologies that have benefited certain sorts of people and disadvantaged others. there may be separate explanations for the rise at the very top of the distribution, but those sort of long-term trends pose a very large challenge for public policy. if you're interested in ensuring that the distribution and economic pie happens in a certain way, it's assuring that certain people can make a living even if certain skills they have are no longer demanded by businesses. that's a very difficult problem to address. and in addition to the work we do a short-term economic issues we work underway trying to progress long-term economic challenges as well as. congress talks about education and training. the u.s. spends a rather small share of its gdp on retraining workers relative to many
countries in europe, for example. at the same time, evidence on the effectiveness of training programs suggest that not all of them work very well, so it's not a magic bullet. and i don't think, i certainly don't have, i don't think the analytic community has to offer you a magic bullet. but that's not to diminish the significance of the trend you were describing. i think they are significant, and as i say, we talked about doing more work in education and training, and that is one direction that one could proceed. also, of course one can change tax policy in ways to raise money for certain people and not from others, as you and your colleagues sought to do. so there's various leaders but i don't think they are straightforward. >> i have 18 seconds. i'd love to see us help working
families purchase homes now when the prices are low, and when interest rates are at historic lows, helping to absorb this huge surplus of housing we have and to empower new generation of homeowners. any thoughts in one second? out of time. >> we have been giving everybody some additional time, senator merkley, so we can, we have been giving everybody a couple minutes over the time. >> thank you, mr. chair. i want to hear your thoughts. >> you raise another very straightforward issue for me, the senator. in the housing boom, some people ended up being able to borrow money to buy houses that they couldn't sustain ownership of, they couldn't sustain payments on their mortgages. some of that is because of the economic problems and the loss
of jobs and loss of income that ensued, but some of the most example is -- most analysts think that was just an excessive exuberance and buying houses and borrowing money. that was just too much of a stretch for some people. i think the widespread view of the standards for who will be able to borrow how much money against the house will be tougher going forward than they were during the boom years. at the moment they seem to be tougher even than they were some years before the boom and analysts worry about that. and the administration's efforts to work with fannie mae and freddie mac partly to try to ensure that the standards, mortgage lending, are not higher now than they were in what looks like the reasonable stable period before the boom. beyond that as you know the tax code provides considerable incentive for people by subsidizing mortgage interest. there are other policies that you and your colleagues could
considered to help homeowners in general, or to help homeowners in a more targeted way. >> i will be real quick in my response is to allow my colleague to get into his questions. but i do think that i would emphasize, lastly, the exuberance factor than the predatory factor. when ordinary working families went to their originator in their original was being paid undisclosed bonuses or kickbacks to steer them into subprime loans, that was a big problem when the originator was filling out the loan amounts, if you will, the loan was a liar loan. that was a problem. when there was a prepayment penalty that homeowners certainly didn't understand because they were trusting the mortgage originator, it meant they couldn't get out of this predatory loan once they sign into without seeing a huge share of the diet of the house, that was a huge problem. we have ended all those
practices. they should not have been allowed in the first place. but i am concerned with throwing the baby out with the bathwater. i would put much of the bubble attributable to the low-cost teaser rates that started in 2003, and you could almost track the growth of the loans with the growth of the bubble. and so we do spend about $100 billion a year on interest subsidies. very little of that goes to working families, very little. indeed, because the synergy deduction is higher than the kosovar new family buying homes. so my argument is, in addition to that, shouldn't we be doing matching down payment grants to enable folks to seize this opportunity, working families to seize this opportunity whose income still does enable them to buy a house, lower levels and lower interest rates, rather than have these homes sit empty? my argument would be, and i would love to get additional cbo analysis, that that little bit of money, two to $3 billion
compared to the $100 billion we are spending on mortgage deduction would be very valuable in investment with a huge set of factors that are reinforcing to our economy in terms of the education of the children, graduation rates from high school, reduced likelihood of being on public assistance, future in life and so forth. there's a whole series of externalities that come to play with homeownership. >> i understand the issue, senator, and i don't think with we have analyzed the policy but certainly we can talk about whether we have the tools to do that. >> thank you very thoughtful questions, senator merkley. that's good. senator coons. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, director elmendorf. i'm sorry to have missed your testimony earlier. i was in an energy committee hearing, and look forward to reading it in full. i'd like to start if i could on a topic that we discussed on the energy committee, a number of times. in may, chairman bingaman and i sent to the congressional budget
office, since you a letter requesting further insight into how cbo views and scores two different instruments. one, energy savings purchase contracts with which i have some experience from my years in the private sector where i help manage and implement those and then the public sector at the county level we help utilize those defined as energy efficiency investments at the county level. and the second long-term power purchase agreement for federal installations as a way to manage some of the long-term costs of deploying a new energy technology, something that i think both omb and the department of defense are looking at more closely. i did get a response, my staff got a response in july, to the first question so i want to thank you for that. and as i understand it, the cbo continues to view e.s.p.s because when entered, omb among others view it as budget neutral because in the long term
contractually it saves the government money. so this may be an example of something that scores but does not cost. and i welcome any comments you might have on that. then second, i'm still awaiting a response on the power purchase agreements and welcome any sort of insight you can offer today on that at more than anything i just wanted to signal a persistent enthusiasm working with you, it being november, the letter having gone in may, i understand there are many, many other pressing concerns but i happen to be in a state where proceedings to deploy a number of technologies when that might be of some real interest. and it's something that chairman and i have talked about. >> so senator, i'm very sorry we didn't respond to the earlier letter of yours completely. i confess that i didn't realize there was an outstanding request but i will be sure when i go back that we are working on it, and i'm sorry it seems to have fallen through the cracks from our point of view. but we will check and see what happens.
on the energy-saving purchase contracts, i remember knowing a bit about this when we return to to you and less about it at the moment. i think there are a couple of issues here. one is how much money is the government saving on balance, it and it depends on how the contracts are written. and the second issue is you raised, which is how the estimates work, and i think the issue you're referring to is that the contracts themselves count as a cost. savings can be realized by the government letter to the extent that appropriations actions reduce the funding to purchase power, and for long-standing budgetary rules those things are kept track of separately. but we try interested in, there are other cases where there is a diversion. and we try we can't offer an assessment of what the savings would be, but they recognize in the report, the paygo refers to
mandatory spending, not discretionary appropriations in the same way. that's nothing that we directly control in the overall architecture of the budget from congress' point of view. but we try to provide information so people can see the whole picture. i think we tried to do that in this letter to you about energy-saving purchasing contracts. again, i'm sorry i don't have the details of it. someone who is in my first year, i am trying to sort of keep my eye on places where there are, from a broader view, real opportunities for savings. but wherefore budgets going reasons we don't pursue. so if i have in these two instances have identified something or i can contribute a more detailed conversations about that, i'd be grateful to learn more about it. i am convinced that long-term ptas have an opportunity to improve both the purchase price for federal entities, and the
deployment of new technologies. two more questions today, if i might, given time limitation. first, on the range of punitive effects of policy options that you laid out today, that repatriations were particularly low, but your analysis in reducing the tax rate on repatriation income showed a very negligible gain in output. i wonder if a repatriation policy were more tightly articulated with mandatory, either hiring policies or infrastructure investment, which you predict any greater impact on the economy, or would you continue to score it really at the far low end of potential beneficial undertakes? >> if the policy could be written in a way that it created additional incentive for firm >> to hire or to invest, then you would have a higher cost effectiveness performance. what i haven't thought about is,
so these are the companies that have a lot of companies overseas. as we tend to say in our testament, have also a lot of assets here in united states so they are not in general constrained by not having those funds available. so then comment and they are probably doing some hiring and investing anyway, so how one would construct the law to link the lower rate on tax rate repatriation to incremental investment or hiring, i'm not sure. and we could think about and also probably would be better to talk our colleagues on the staff of the joint committee on taxation who are much more experienced than we do in that sort of issue. but yeah, the reason it gets a lo, turns out to have such a low performance by this measure is we think basically the companies would bring the money back, but
doesn't change their decision whether to hire an extra worker or do extra investment. that link could be forged in a reliable way that would make the policy more effective. >> there is a bill which i believe has been introduced, cosponsored by senators hagan and mccain attempt to do just that, which i have so far not supported in part of skepticism or concern about that step and news and -- mechanism and its effectiveness. there's another effort underway to use the repatriated increase tax revenue to the treasury as a way to prime the vote financing infrastructure bank. my core concern is is there any way given corporate earnings and profits to demonstrate in a reasonable way that those repatriated profits are, in fact, deployed meaningfully, which i think it's sort of the core criticism of the previous opportunity? i appreciate if you wouldn't mind, you've already covered this in some detail, just a quick reference to what you might see as the most three most likely to be effective economy
strengthen fiscal policy measures that you think could command bipartisan support. it's that last clause. yes. center, i'm about the 10,000 most knowledgeable person within five miles of this building. so i'm not the person won't ask about what's politically viable. all we can do is offer our analysis of what we think is more a less effective. there are various measures, and various criteria by which your colleagues can do this. i can't really apply a filter of political viability for you. >> let me ask if i could, final question on that, recognizing the difficulty trying to identify things that could potentially compel bipartisan support the earlier today, senator ruby and i announced the introduction of a bill, one of the many features of it is extending, expensing provisions
for investment cost for small businesses. that also scored on a very broad range, i may have missed his previous testimony, but heart of the concern about its range of effectiveness, the direction for the link the predictability of the period for an extension. in other words, a one or two year extension accelerate either expensive or depreciation provisions being less effective than the longer-term extension. >> it certainly comes, i would, i guess i would emphasize first in the uncertainty, the state of the business cycle and the low rate of utilization of existing capacity. and lowering the cost investment we think would spur some investment, but how much might be limited by the fact that businesses have capital in hand. they are not now using. but it's hard to know how much difference that makes. and analyses of past variation in this sort of provision of the
tax code average some varying conclusions about how effective the policy has been. i think this is a case, sort of a policy where short-term can be better than long-term. for many things, one looks to permit change in policy is more effective in altering behavior. but in this case if businesses do this as truly a temporary measure, sort of a sale on investment, buying investment goods, for a limited period that could spur more reaction in the same sense in which a store that has low prices just for this weekend might get people in the door this weekend. so that's the temporary nature of it can help to accelerate the business investment spending, people might do extra if this provision were in effect. that's complicated by the fact that many times in the past, certainly the last decade, had provisions like this on a number of occasions. so, it is less of i think probably viewed less as a one time thing, and more as part of the ever evolving nature of our tax code.
it also makes it harder for us to judge how business will assess its temporary or permanent, and thus how much effect it would have on the rest of their spending. but i think the uncertainty we have is not easily accessible in particular changes in the provision that just reflects the difficulty of judging how businesses would respond under these circumstances, any sort of proposal like this. >> thank you. thank you for your testimony. >> excellent questions. thank you for your answers, director elmendorf. just on repatriation, i want to say there's not much of a mistry, i don't believe, because we have done it. we can now go back and look at what happened. and it's very, very clear what happened. the 15 companies that were the biggest repatriators were pharmaceutical, tobacco, technology and soda companies. those corporations that
accounted for more than half of all the earnings repatriated reduced their u.s. workforce by 21,000 jobs after the tax break that was predicated on them creating more jobs in this economy. what they did do, they didn't hire people, they laid off people. what they did do is accelerated stock buybacks. they increased executive pay 30% a year between 2004-2006. and interestingly enough, they actually related offshore funds at a faster rate than before the tax break. so, i just say to my colleagues who are kind of intrigued with this idea, corporations that use offshore tax havens get the
largest benefit. after the 2004 tax break, a substantial share of the repatriated funds came from tax havens. boy, is that a surprise? i'll tell you, if we get in the habit of repeating these repatriation gimmicks every few years, what incentive does that provide companies? about as clear as it can be. that is a huge incentive to take jobs overseas. take jobs overseas, safe and secure in the knowledge that congress will answer the siren song to allow these repatriation holidays, bring the money back at a fraction of the normal tax rate, talking as low as 5%, 5.25% instead of the statutory rate of 35%.
and that they will be able to convince congress, if you just allow this to do this, one time, or maybe we'll do it again in just a few years, and we will bring this money back at a fraction of the normal tax rate, just in time to lay off some more people and increased executive pay and have some more stock buybacks. my goodness. i mean, fool me once. fool me once, fool me twice, fool me three times. you know, at some point shame on us. for buying the siren song. you know, of all the things i've seen, and by the way, we talk about being increased, been worried about the deficit, joint committee on taxation said it will cost the treasury $79 billion over 10 years. so it adds to the deficit, adds to the debt, the companies that
repatriate are very concentrated tax haven countries, and they bring the money back and lay off people. why, there's a brilliant scheme. add to the debt, have further job losses, create an additional incentive for companies to move jobs overseas so that they can set themselves up for the next repatriation holiday, in which they come back here at a fraction of the normal tax rate. my goodness. i hope we don't fall for that one again. i think the director. >> thank you, mr. chairman. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
consideration of the energy and water spending bill for fiscal year 2012. majority leader reid has said he hopes an agreement on the amendments to the bill can be reached right away. the senate has to pass a continuing resolution, also they need to get to the defense authorization bill before the weakest done. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2.
senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, the giver of grace and mercy, we bless your holy name. today, empower our lawmakers to walk in your will and follow your leading. give them clean hearts and renew a right spirit within them. teach them to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to strive and not to heed the wounds; to toil
reward except that of knowing they are doing your will. we pray in your sovereign name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, november 16, 2011. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable kirsten e. gillibrand, a senator from the state of new york, to perform the duties of the chair.
signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks, the senate will be in a period of morning business for an hour. the majority will control the first half. the republicans the final half. following morning business, the senate resume consideration of h.r. 2354, which is the energy and water appropriations bill. we need to work on an agreement for the bill. i'll advise senators when votes are scheduled. madam president, we are -- we have a lot of work to do in the next few days. we cannot have the defense authorization bill eat up a lot of time after we get back from the recess that we have for thanksgiving, so everyone should understand we're going to move forward on the defense authorization bill. it may not be tomorrow, it may not be the next day, but we have to do it before we have easter
-- i'm sorry, easter ... thanksgiving. i hope everyone understands. i know everyone wants to get home for thanks giving. we all do. but we have an obligation here. the christmas period -- that is, after thanksgiving, we have just a few weeks to get everything done. as important as the defense authorization bill is we can't eat up days and days of that time in december. twoaf finish that bilwe have to. i hope that people understand if they have an idea that they're going to stop us from moving forward on the bill, on the motion to proceed, we're going to get that done and more. so that would mean we have to work past thursday, past friday, and if we have procedural obstacles on that very important legislation, it will mean we have to work the weekend into next week. i want to make sure everyone understands that. so all senators are watching and listening and especially the
staff, make sure you have alter national reservations to leave washington. the democrats and republicans don't agree on much these day, although i had a meeting with some veterans groups earlier todayes aand i indicated to them maybe they're going to bring us some good luck because we were able to pass part of the president's jobs bill. the veterans employment with an overwhelming majority. that was very good news. i hope that's the beginning of some good days ahead of us. we do agree that congress must do something about the unemployment crisis that we face. we have 14 million americans out of work. there's no more pressing issue facing congress or the country than jobs. our plan, the democrats' plan to address this problem has been very straightforward. we've advocated for policies that will create jobs by investing in what makes this country great -- our infrastructure, our education system, our innovative workforce.
despite republican obstructionism, we've continued to fight for middle-class jobs bringing to the senate floor bill after bill designed to put americans back to work. i met yesterday with a business round table, a stellar organization, with the finest business executives we have in america today. and i told them that i know that they're all doing well financially, and i went over what we had proposed a week or so ago. that is, we need to do something about infrastructure. it is deteriorating. and i said, we were able to put forward a piece of legislation that said, let's spend $50 billion creating hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs. we would not punish millionaires and billionaires. what we would do is people fortunate enough to make a million dollars in a given year, we would say, any money that they make over $1 million, they
would have to pay a surtax of .7%. does anybody out here think that's an onerous suggestion? nobody raised their hand. no one said "no," because it isn't. but on a straight party-line vote, that failed. so we're gl going to continue to fight for middle o-class jobs, bringing the senate bill after bill, as we have done, and a bring more in -- and we'll bring more in the future putting americans back to work. the republicans have taken a dimp approach. they've advocated a wholesale appeal of so-called job-killing regulations. madam president, we know and we were able to show dwhre yesterdt the jobs that have been lost, about .3%, has been about regulations. does that mean all regulations are perfect.
of course not. that's why the obama administration, as did the bush administration, as did the clinton administration, have a review of what regulations are onerous and we should change or get rid of. we need that. -- we understand that. but republicans, that is their job-creating mantra. get rid of regulations. doesn't work. they say rolling back limits on air pollution, to rules that keep our work sites safe will create jobs and revive our economy. the problem is, it's just not true. business leaders and economists of every political stripe believe this g.o.p. mantra is a falsehood. a respected economic advisor to two republican presidents called this myth spread by republicans to cover up their lack of meaningful work plans to create jobs -- quote -- "nonsense" and -- quote -- "made up." i talked about him in some detail yesterday. the evidence and facts show that
government safeguards have little impact on employment. the bureau of labor statistics study found that last year .3% of layoffs was caused by regulation. that's according to executives who ordered those layoffs. nearly a 85 times as many jobs were lost last year because of a slow economy. rather than work with us to turn this weak economy around, creating hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of jobs, republicans spent 11 months fighting democratic policies to create jobs. meanwhile, they spent these past 11 months focused on killing regulations that make america safer, healthier, more efficient and more productive. for example, the republicans want to harlt updates to the -- ealt updates to the clean air act. since its passage 40 years ago during the presidency of richard nixon -- you know, madam president, why nixon and the congress got kind of interested in that, in ohio the cuyahoga river kept catching fire, the
river started burning. they would put it out and it would start burning again. so president nixon and others felt we should do something about it. the clean air act. and we also during that same period of time did something about the clean air act. and the clean air act alone has reduced emission of key pollutants by several percent. laws would reduce emissions of mercury and other life-threatening pollutants into the air, saving lives. last year the clean air act saved the lives of 160,000 americans and prevented 86,000 emergency room visits and 13,000 lost work days. this is money in the bank for all of us when we can save lives, prevent emergency room visits, and keep people working and not being sick. the clean air act has prevented hundreds of thousands of cases
of heart disease, chronic bronchitis and asthma. it's wonderful that we have done things to help clean the air, but we also have medicines that help. madam president, i can remember as a little boy going up to visit a woman who lived on the outskirts of searchlight. that's really a couple of miles out of the main part of searchlight. i never, ever have forgotten this. she had asthma. and my mom went out to see if there was anything she could do to help. there wasn't a thing she could do to help. this woman was so -- in such a state of distress. couldn't breathe, making horrible noises that i've never forgotten. things are better, one reason medicines but also cleaner air. the clean air act has prevented hundreds of thousands of cases of heart disease, as i've catted, chronic bronchitis and asthma. and last year alone it saved
american companies and consumers $1.3 trillion by reducing medical costs and increasing productivity. of course all these benefits come with a price tag. but for every dollar spent complying with the clean air act, this nation saves $30 in emergency room bills, lost workdays, and environmental cleanup. and repeating the law of the clean air act wouldn't make the costs go away. instead, it would shift them from corporations to consumers. complying with environmental safeguards is part of being a good corporate citizen. that's why two-thirds of citizens say scientists at the environmental protection agency should set policies and standards. 71% of voters including a majority of republicans support the act by republicans. 80% believe the casks will improve public health and air quality. there's plenty of evidence that smart, fair regulations save lives and save communities lots
of money and also consumers lots of money. there's more evidence that stronger watchdogs could have prevented disasters like the 2508 financial crisis or the west virginia mining accident that killed 21 people last year. simply repealing the fiction that regulations kill jobs doesn't make it a fact. but even if there is one ounce of truth in the fable, there are many ways to steer our economy out of the ditch and create jobs that don't risk american lives. mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: today i would like to begin again by focusing on a piece of jobs legislation that republicans in the house have recently passed with significant bipartisan support and by calling on the democratic majority in the senate to follow the lead of the house republicans by taking this legislation up and passing it right here in the senate. the legislation i'd like to
highlight is h.r. 2250, the e.p.a. regulatory relief act. this legislation passed the house overwhelmingly last month. 41 democrats supported it there over in the house. senator collins has introduced a similar bill here in the senate. it's got strong, strong bipartisan support. most americans are probably aware by now that the obama administration is crushing businesses across the country with a mountain of red tape and new regulations that it imposes outside of the legislative process. when asked about the challenges they face, small business owners now rank these regulations at the very top of the challenges that they face. one of the chief offenders is e.p.a., and one of the most potentially damaging regulations this red tape factory has proposed relates to the boilers that are used by just about every manufacturer or institution in this country that doesn't get the power it needs
from standard utilities. right now the e.p.a. wants to force anybody with an industrial-sized boiler to change their facilities to comply with the burdensome new regulation that, according to one study, could put 230,000 jobs at risk. so here's what senator collins has in mind. the e.p.a. regulatory relief act would do about all of this problem. here's what it would do to protect jobs right here in america. first, senator collins' bill would provide more time for e.p.a. to issue regulations for industrial, commercial and institutional boilers, process heaters and incinerators. this is the time that e.p.a. itself has indicated that it needs an order to collect more data and analysis and to finalize the rules. so it gives e.p.a. what it says it needs. more specifically, it would provide e.p.a. 15 months from
the date of the bill's enactment to repropose and finalize the new border rules which i want to emphasize that e.p.a. has actually already requested at this time. this bill would also extend the compliance deadlines from three to five years which would allow companies adequate time to comply with the new standards and install the required equipment. crucially, this bill would also direct e.p.a. to ensure the new rules are achievable and realistic. we all recognize the vital role the e.p.a. plays in keeping the air we breathe and the water we drink clean and safe. but we also need to get some commonsense limits on its actions. and that means putting in place laws that protect americans against the kind of regulatory overreach that too many unelected bureaucrats in washington seem to live for these days, especially in these challenging economic times. as i said, this bill has a lot
of support not only from republicans but from democrats here in the senate. in fact, 12 of the bill's cosponsors are democrats. like me, they understand and appreciate how these new rules would adversely affect jobs and manufacturing in this country, and they want to work with us to do something about it. so this is the perfect example of an issue on which the two parties actually agree. perfect example. senator ron wyden supports this bill because it directs the e.p.a. to go back to the drawing board and craft boiler rules that are more in line with what is realistic for mills and factories, he said. senator wyden argues that the e.p.a. itself has admitted that its boiler rules need to be fixed. here's how senator landrieu put it over the summer. with manufacturing being one of the bright spots in our economic recovery, we cannot atoward to jeopardize the industry's help and high-paying jobs it supplies
to this country. this legislation will give the e.p.a. the time extension it needs to craft a balanced approach that not only keeps our environment clean but also our economy strong. this legislation is supported by the american forest and paper association, the national association of manufacturing, the u.s. chamber of commerce, the national federation of independent business, the business round table, the power association, and around 300 other business groups. too many jobs are at stake for the senate not to act on this legislation that's actually already passed the house. i previously mentioned an ohio paper mills where 200 jobs are at stake result of this rule. the american forest and paper association says 70,000 jobs in the paper industry alone are also at risk. the republican house has done its job. now is time for the senate to act. let's take up the e.p.a. regulatory relief act, pass it,
and send it on down to the president for signature. if democratic leaders can't agree to take up and pass legislation that the two parties actually agree on, then what will they agree to pass? let's follow the house's lead and show the american people we can work together on this commonsense bipartisan tpwoeul protect jobs -- bipartisan bill to protect jobs in american manufacturing. madam president, on an entirely different subject, i want today to pay tribute to a good friend of mine and a man who has been a good friend of the commonwealth of kentucky for decades, whether as a state legislator, a pastor, an evangelist, a radio station operator or as a dedicated and loving family man, the
reverend gene huff of london, kentucky, has been a good and faithful servant of his community for many years. he has my respect as a model kentuckian. gene huff was born october 6, 1929. and before he was 20 years old he had heard the call to preach and began traveling kentucky as an eadvantage list. his wife of nearly 60 years, ethyl, recalls the first time she laid eyes on gene when he came to preach at her church. in 1949 he came to newport, kentucky, to preach his first revival at age 19, ethel remembers. it was my home church. i had never seen or heard a teenager preach before. so when i first saw gene, i wondered what he would be able to tell us. he was so young-looking to be a preacher, but i loved his broad, friendly smile and wonderful
voice from the very start. to my surprise, she said, he really could preach. at the first meeting, ethel was a 16-year-old church pianist. she must have been smitten with the handsome 19-year-old preacher. they dated for three years and were married on july 4, 1952. that same year gene found a permanent home as a preacher when he became the first pastor at the first pentacostal church in london, kentucky, the church that would eventually become his home for three decades. from 1955 to 1963 he followed some other pursuits, including serving as pastor at the upper colony holiness church and the carmichael community church in london and at the deer park christian assembly of god church in cincinnati. he also worked for a time as a public schoolteacher and a tutor. but in 1963, gene returned to pastor at the first pentacostal
and remained in that capacity until 1989. many kentuckians have also come to know gene through his life long experience in politics. he was first elected to the kentucky house of representatives in 1967. in 1971, he won a seat in the kentucky senate representing the 21st district and served there until 1994. i got to work with gene in his legislative capacity over the years and can truly say the people of the 21st district could not have asked for a more dedicated, loyal or hardworking senator. gene was always true and faithful to his convictions in the state senate. he was the leader of efforts to oppose the lottery coming to kentucky. and although he was ultimately unsuccessful, i know he was proud of waging that fight. he would eventually rise to serve as both the minority caucus chairman and the minority floor leader and as the ranking republican on the appropriations
and revenue committee for 14 years. in 2000 he was inducted into the fifth district lincoln club hall of fame. gene continued to serve as a pastor while serving his constituents in frankfurt. in 1974, inspired by his son marty, who had seen a presentation on a bus ministry, gene found four school buses for his church to buy and fix up, and he began running these buses across the region to bring people in to hear him preach at first pentacostal. they named the four buses matthew, mark, luke and john. before the bus service began, gene's sunday school had an average attendance of around 150. within three months, over 400 people were attending gene's services. and gene traveled even farther than the back roads of kentucky when it came to spreading the word. in the 1980's, while serving as a state senator, gene successfully got a resolution passed to assist persecuted
christians in romania. shortly afterwards, gene traveled to romania to see the situation there himself firsthand. when he -- what he he saw so moved him that he began an entirely new phase of foreign missions in ministry. gene would go on to make 28 trips just to romania, and he and ethel traveled to 33 countries. in 1990 they formed good news outreach missions organization to support their work in foreign missions. here's how ethel puts the effect these trips have had on her and gene. involvement and support of foreign missions has been a beautiful addition to the tapestry of our lives. as if all this service to both congregants and constituents were not enough, gene succeeded in many other pursuits as well. he has installed air conditioners and furnaces,
repaired washing machines, rebuilt cars, worked in home construction, worked at a car dealership and an ice cream shop and hauled hay, coal, lumber and watermelons. he once worked as a travel agent for k.l.m. airlines. in the 19 # os he became part owner of an airplane and earned his pilot's license. on the day he resigned, gene and ethel raised a 50,000 watt tower for a christian radio station which he continued to operate until 2007. i remember doing two interviews with gene on wy tkpw*e. gene played a key role in seeing a brand-new state-of-the-art hospital completed, an acute care hospital that serves a population of over 50,000 in four counties. when construction for the new facility came to a crossroads a few year ago it was gene who brought the community together
on a thanksgiving weekend to lobby for the hospital's completion. i'm sure he's proud to see the new hospital and its award-winning cardiovascular services up and running. gene huff is not only a well-rounded man but a well-educated one as well. he enrolled in sue bennett junior college in london in the fall of 1952 beginning a pursuit of higher education that would continue over a period of 25 years. he finished sue bennett in 1954 and earned a bachelors degree from union college in barberville in 1960. his master's degree was earned at moorehead state university in moorehead, kentucky, in 1976. he also earned an educational specialist degree there in 1977. he pursued further graduate work at the university of kentucky. in 1999, gene was awarded an honorary doctor of public education degree from union college. gene turned 82 years old about a month ago, madam president, and
i certainly hope he took the happy occasion of his birthday to look back proudly at a life filled with achievement. the number of lives he has touched, whether through his preaching, his public service, or just his warm and steady presence among family and friends cannot be counted. i had the pleasure of talking to gene on the phone a few days ago and we got to reminisce about old times. and i just wanted him to know i was thinking of him and that i'm proud of him for the decades of service to his community, to the commonwealth of kentucky, and to god. it's an honor to come to washington to represent kentuckians like the reverend gene huff. and i'm sure no one could be prouder of gene than his wife, ethel, their five children, arlen, martin, anna march -- ma marie, their 19 grandchildren and many other beloved family
and friends. madam president, i would ask my senate colleagues to join me in recognizing reverend gene huff for his lifetime of accomplishments. kentucky is honored to call him one of our own and i'm honored to call him my friend. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, there will now be a period of morning business for up to one hour with senators permitted to speak therein for ten minutes each, with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the majority controlling the first half and the republicans controlling the second half. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: madam president, i would like to ask unanimous consent that the senator from montana, senator tester, and the senator from louisiana, senator landrieu; and the senator from connecticut, senator blumenthal and i have unanimous consent to engage during morning business time in a colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: and further
that val milasa, a fellow in senator tester's office be granted floor privileges for today. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, madam president. we have just passed through a very significant landmark in this country, which is that student debt, the burden of college loan debt that americans have to carry, broke through $1 trillion. $1 trillion in debt. and because of the laws that have been set up to favor the banks, in particular in this congress, the debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. so that is a $1 trillion burden on folks who required loans to get through college that they can never shake off, that is going to stay with them for their lives, for as long as it takes to pay it down, even when things don't work out for them. so it is a very, very
significant milestone when it hits $1 trillion of this particular kind of very onerous debt. and one of the responses to it is the pell grant. the pell grant helps people who can't afford college have the chance to go to college.and it y through college, and it does so without leaving that burden of debt behind. it is named after senator claiborne pell of rhode island, a senator and a man who was very important to me in my life and in my development as a political figure in rhode island. he was a very dear friend and went almost inexexplicably out of his way for me on many different occasions. so i am deeply indebted to him, but i'm also extremely proud to represent rhode island in the
senate, to represent a state that produced senator claiborne pell, and particularly as we face this massive burden of debt to come to the floor, to participate in this colloquy in support of the pell grant. and i'll turn to my colleague, senator tester, in one moment, but i had just want to say -- but i just want to say how important this is to just individual people who really wouldn't have the chance otherwise. i was at the university of rhode island just a few weeks ago, and i met a woman named amber who is 29 years old. she's not your standard, you know, come out of high school, go on to college student. she's actually a mom.
she has two kids. she works full-time and she goes to school full-time and she's the mother of two kids. this is a busy, busy person, and a very energetic and capable person. and the only way that she can make things work in her life and enable her to be a full-time mom, a full-time employee, and a full-time student is because the pell grant that she gets bridges the gap between what she can earn, what she can borrow, what she has to pay, and gives her the chance to move into a college-educated status. as we know, from looking at this recession that we've been in right now, there are two economies in america. there's an economy for college-educated people, an economy in which the top unemployment rate was below 5%,
and then there's the economy for people who have not had the benefit and the good fortune of a college education, for whom unemployment is nearly twice as high and for whom the suffering brought on by the wall street meltdown and the subsequent recession has been much more acute. so i will turn now to senator tester. i appreciate so much that he has come to join us today and to help our colleagues, i hope, come to the realization that cutting pell grants, as we face our debt and our deficit problem, would be a wild mistake, would be a terrible mistake, would undercut the progress that we're trying to make, would be one of the worst places to go for spending cuts, even know i admit we need to make them, the pell grant is the wrong place to look. and i would yield to my distinguished colleague, senator tester. mr. tester: madam president? thank you, senator from rhode island, senator whitehouse. we appreciate your leadership.
on the issue of pell grants -- and i very much appreciate the opportunity to address pell granltsdzs angrants and what tht only our young people, to the folks who are being retrained to find different lines of work, but also to the overall economy as well. if we're going to go to an institution of higher learning at this point in time, it takes money. if pell grants are reduced or potentially even taken away, as some want, it takes away that opportunity. it takes away that opportunity for upward mobility within our society, within the economy. without education, if you're born poor, you're liable to stay poor. without education, if you want to improve your quality of life, it becomes much, much, much more difficult. when i meet with students, both traditional and nontraditional
students, around the state of montana, the first question they ask me -- or one of the first questions -- is what's the federal government doing to make college affordable? because if you're unfortunate enough to be born without economic means, these pell grants are critically important to be able to allow people, students, young people, folks that need to be retrained to go to college and get that traini training, to add to our economy, to get them a better job and potentially become business owners and down the line. now why is that important? because pell grants have been under attack in the house. h.r. 1 cut $5.7 billion from pell grants. millions of students would have been denied access to education because of that cut. some people in the house even call pell grants 21st century welfare. couldn't be further from the truth. and then after h.r. 1 was put down in the senate in a
bipartisan way, the house passed the labor-h.h.s. cut, which cut $8 billion from pell, eliminating pell grants from folks who are going to school less than half-time. that eliminates all the nontradition -- well, a good portion of the nontraditionallal students because a lot of these folks are trying to make a living, trying to support a family, and trying to improve themselves and the economic strategstrata of this world. some of them have been laid off. there is an individual in western montana, had a tile business, a 27-year-old -- 27 years experience in the tile and stone business, had a family. because of the economic downturn and because of quite frankly physical limitations in a business that's very, very difficult, he had to be -- he had to find a different line of work. work had dried up and quite frankly, the back was getting weak. so he was able to get a pell grant, go back to school on a
part-time basis, and study for a job where there was a job, once he got done, in the culinary arts, something that he wants to do, something that would allow thrim to support his family. without those pell grants, developed possibly been on workmen's comp or been making the potential -- the potential of making far less money. so when the pell grants come forth in the house and they do things like cut pell grants, either their amount or eliminate the number available to our students across this country, traditional and otherwise, we are basically doing bad things to the economy, cutting the economy down. because, quite honestly, the affordability issue is critically important. as we move forth and people go to get retrained and move themselves up in the economic strata.
the other thing -- and finally -- is just the importance to indian country, with the tribal colleges, the pell grants are used to a great extent there. why is this important? well, in montana, in indian country, the unemployment rate is very, very high, 70% and higher in many of the reservations around montana. and quite honestly, if we're going to dig into the unemployment rate across this country, whether it is indian reservations or wherever, education is a key component in making that happen. pell grants are a key component to giving access to our students, both traditional and nontraditional. and as we move forth here, we need to understand that men and women alike, young people, middle-aged that need the training to be able to get good jobs, pell grants are a critical component of that. with that, i will kick it back to the senator from rhode island. senator whitehouse. mr. whitehouse: senator test tester, as you know, we have a
very distinguished colleague who has now gone on to become the secretary of interior of the united states, ken salazar. i see that former attorney general and now senator blumenthal from connecticut has joined us for this colloquy, and ken salazar was the attorney general of colorado, an attorney general with both of us, and ken grew up in a farm in colorado that, until his generation, didn't have running water and didn't have electricity. his generation was the first generation to go to college. when i got here, he was a united states senator, his brother was a united states congressman, and it never would have happened if it hadn't been for the pell grant. wait was the pell grant that allowed those boys from a far-away corner of colorado, to be the first generation that got their foothold in a college and
were able to propel themselves from that to remarkable leadership of our country. it shows when ordinary americans are capable of when the pell grant gives them that launching pad. and i really appreciate that you brought up the effects on indian country as well. and senator blumenthal i know wanted to say a few word. mr. blumenthal: yes, madam president, i want to thank my colleague from rhode island for organizing this colloquy and senator tester, you've been a tireless advocate of opportunity for all the people of the united states, and particularly your state, and so i'm honored to follow you in this discussion. you know, claiborne pell, whose name is on the grant, is really an example of how an individual can make a difference in this institution. his contributions have left a legacy not only for himself and the state of rhode island but also for the entire country in
advancing the cause of higher education, really putting it on the map in the american understanding of how critically important it is and how it is ever more important today for the united states to compete in the global economy, for individuals to compete within the united states, for middle-class people to continue to have viable and healthy families. in fact, the pell grant is important to the economic health and even the viability of our middle class, and the failure to fund it and support it will endanger educational opportunities for middle-class americans across the country. what we know about this modern economy is that more and more
the high school education alone means less and less. high school is vitally important, but economically it is not enough. and that is reflected in an overwhelming, almost an avalanche, of statistics and stytestudies, the most recent id last week by the georgetown institution on education, showed clearly that americans who have only a high school education are less likely to have a good income and a good economic status. workers who have a high school diplomat alondiploma alone in 1e
qualified for 73% of jobs. today people who have only a high school diploma are qualified for only 44% of the jobs available, and in 2018, that number will drop to 37%. now, that kind of set of numbers is more than just statistics. it's human lives and families and income -- dollars -- in people's pockets that they can spend in our economy. it affects particularly women who more and more shoulder the largest burden of changes in our educational requirements and have been hit hardest in the unemployment crisis that we fa face. in our advancing economy, employers need high-skilled
individuals. more and more when i hear as i go around the state, is there js available but there aren't people with the skills to fill them. when we talk about a pell grant and college degrees, we're not talking only about a four-year diploma, we're talking about an associate's degree that enables somebody to run a computer on an assembly line or do welding or the other kinds of practical skills that enable meme to fill those jobs, enable america to compete, and enable employers to compete successfully. in 2018, only a third of the jobs available to noncollege-educated workers will provide a living wage, and that is a statistic that ought to be a wake-up call to the congress and to washington. and i think it's reflected not just in the overall picture but
in the individual human stories that both of my colleagues have reflected in their remarks, and i hear from people who not only have benefited from pell grants but who hope to benefit from them, educators who believe that they are vital to the future of american education. and i want to just cite a few here this morning and quote first from a letter that i received from norma esquadel, who lives in greenwich, connecticut, and who said to me in her letter, "i recently received news regarding the possible elimination of the pell grant. as a recipient of the pell grant, the mere thought of losing such an essential feature of my financial aid package is devastating. i was brought up in a latino household where lack of money was often a catalyst for stress
and hopelessness. neither of my parents could afford to attend college. my father worked as a janitor and is currently retired due to his debilitating parkinson's disease while my mother is a housewife." she goes on to talk about how her parents gave her the hope and aspiration to attend college and how she is doing it at sarah lawrence because of the pell grant. gina glickman, the president of manchester community college, writes to me about the students whom she meets and she sees every day who benefit from these programs, and says "pell grants not only help low-income and first-generation students to access postsecondary education and training, they enable them to complete degrees and certificates." senator whitehouse has given us a statistic that is astonishing and alarming. $1 trillion in debt that our students now bear, larger than
the amount that americans owe on their credit cards, i believe. and threatening not only their futures, but all of our economic futures and the viability of our economy. so i would like to ask my colleague from rhode island whether and how much funding is projected to be necessary for the continued viability of this program and for america and americans to compete in the global economy. mr. whitehouse: one of the things, senator blumenthal, that has taken place is that the value to the individual student of the pell grant has actually declined quite a lot over the year since it was first initiated. when the first pell grants came out, they paid for nearly three-quarters of the typical
four-year public college tuition. 72% of that tuition. now they're down to 32%, less than a third. so there's a lot of room to increase what we can spend on pell grants. and i think it's pretty clear from what you have said and what senator tester has said that you know once you are college educated, you step into a different economy with a top unemployment rate through this awful recession of below 5%. you step into a whole new set of opportunities. and you step into opportunities that are higher-income potential for you. all of this goes back to the benefit of our country in higher revenues, in a stronger economy and in more innovation and development, economic development. so we're going the wrong direction is the way i'd respond, and it's time instead of doing what the republicans in the house have suggested, which is to even further in the wrong
direction, even potentially eliminate this grant, call it welfare, for pete's sake -- i mean, remember amber. this is a woman with two children, working full time and going to school. and the thing that enables her to tie that together, the last piece, the keystone in the arch is the pell grant. and you call that welfare? thatthis is a welfare recipient? i don't think so. but that's the kind of attack that these things are under. and it's not just institutions like connecticut is famous for and rhode island is famous for, super high-end institutions that are internationally renowned but it is also basic community college and technical college, places where people can get a solid career. i know senator tester wanted to say a few words about that and then senator landrieu. mr. tester: i do. thank you, senator whitehouse. talked about the unemployment
rate and job opportunities for people who get higher education, i was talking to a welding shop in fort benton, montana, in the central part of the state. the oil play in the east has been having impacts even in our area of the state. this welding shop in fort benton, i talked to a fellow who had issues he wanted to talk to me about. i said what's one of your biggest issues right now? he said right now i could hire a half dozen welders. i could hire them tomorrow. the work is out there for them to do. when we talk about getting this economy going again and getting things moving, it is critically important we not only talk about the four-year college that develops our entrepreneurs and business people, but also those community colleges, the technical colleges, the tribal colleges that do a great job developing a well-trained workforce. with that, i'll kick it over to senator landrieu. ms. landrieu: i'm so happy to join my colleagues who have done a beautiful job this morning just expressing the importance of pell grants to not only
individuals and their families, but to the economic vitality of our nation. and i really want to thank you, senator whitehouse, the senator from rhode island, who's taken this up as a cause. and we need a champion for pell grants. and i'm here to help him and to help senator tester, that stepped up to be a leader as well, to say to them that when i go back to my state and check, and the senator from connecticut knows this, when i go back to my state, what i hear is, senator, without pell grants, i couldn't make this happen. senator, without pell grants, my parents just couldn't afford it. now it's not the whole part of the tuition. but i think senator white house, as you said, it's the keystone. it's the cornerstone. it's the centerpiece. it's the foundation of what our students -- and some of our students who are parents, who are raising two and three
children, holding down one or two jobs, we can't pull that out from underneath them, senator. we just can't do it. secondly, i would say that i know we have to find a way to balance our budget. i just left the go-big conference. i'm one of the ones that's standing in the middle hoping we can come up with not a $1.2 trillion solution but a $4 trillion solution. this is tough. this is hard. but one of the things that shouldn't be on the chopping block are pell grants not because it's a government program. we have to cut back government programs. this is the seed corn. this is the seed corn, senator, for our future vitality as a nation. we need to be sending more kids to college, not less. we need to be producing more engineers, not less. more mathematicians. now this is our basic grant program. so, i just want to come to the floor and join you all, i want
to personally, senator, give you letters from people, from children and adults from my state, a letter here from a student in tpr* tulane university -- a student from tulane university, a letter from a freshman at loyola university, from erisea and a letter from a young man named david who attends louisiana tech. these letters speak for themselves. i'll put them in the record but i wanted to, senator, give them to you because i want you to be able to hear from children from louisiana as well as rhode island and tell you that i want to join you in this movement to not throw out the seed corn while we are trimming the hedges here. and i hope that people understand that there are differences in some government programs. this is really a partnership between the federal government. our own individual citizens, a partnership with them. and a partnership with the university saying we believe in you. we believe in the future of our
country. and this is our investment and it should not be cut. senator, i'm sure you hear this from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you. if the senator would yield, i agree wholeheartedly with everything you said about the importance and the partnership of the pell grants and would just like to, again, ask a question to my colleague from rhode island whom i thank, by the way, for organizing his colloquy and his leadership on this issue. it's been so instrumental carrying on the great legacy and tradition of senator pell. isn't it a fact, senator whitehouse, that throughout its history the pell grant program has enjoyed strong bipartisan support? there's been nothing partisan or republican or democrat about advancing american higher education in this way? mr. whitehouse: that's a great point, senator blumenthal. it's one of the unfortunate
aspects of the current condition that we have in ideas, is that a party that has long supported pell grants, that has long enjoyed bipartisan support, has suddenly, after, what's it been 30 years of support for the pell grant, has suddenly walked away from it. has suddenly decided, no, we have a new agenda. and helping people who can't otherwise afford college to have a chance to go to college without carrying that trillion-dollar burden of debt and to be able to move up into the college-educated economy and the potential it creates, that's not what we're interested in any longer. we're interested in other things. we're interested in -- clearly they're interested in protecting the tax breaks for people over $1 million. we tried to get jobs legislation through here that was paid for
with a tiny tax only on the dollars over $1 million that people earning over $1 million earned. the first million, no difference. the second million is where it started to kick in. no, no. we stopped jobs legislation over that. but when this comes to a kid who can't afford college, that's a program that suddenly they want to take a whack at. and i think it's regrettable. because there is a long history of very honorable, sincere and enthusiastic republican support for the pell grant. and, frankly, there's nothing democrat or republican about an american young person having the chance to begin to climb the ladder of success. that is a common american dream that is common to both parties, and yet now in this strange environment that we now have to inhabit here in washington, this other party has decided, no, we're walking away from that. in the house, they tried to
knock more than $1,750 out of the average grant. they would have put nearly, well, nearly 5,800 students in rhode island off of the pell grant. and when you hear from people like amber who wouldn't be able to do it but for that, this group that i spoke with was so impressive. you had regular students right in line. you had nontra be additional students -- none traditional students like amber. you had faculty who years ago got that pell grant and they made a career out of academia out of that first foot hold they got in higher education through the pell grant. how you'd want to cut it at that point by that much when you have these people, it is just enough to make it possible for them. and when you cut it by nearly over $1,750, for a lot of those kids, for a lot of those working moms, it means, no, as you said,
we're pulling the rug out from under you. you don't get that chance. and we all win when young americans step forward. everybody in america wins when young americans reach their full potential and create industries and do a great job and save lives as surgeons or nurses or e.m. it's and pay revenues through their taxes, through their support of our great country. ms. landrieu: senator, i would say this program is one of the most effective antiwelfare programs in the country that we fund in the country. this is exactly from xavier student, a student that writes in. this student is a first-year student majoring in biology in premed. this is an african-american catholic university, the only one in the country and it produces more premed students and more doctors than almost the largest. we have one minute. she is a product of a
single-family home and was the only individual employed in her household. so as she's going to school, she's also employed, supporting the whole household, basically keeping them off of other government programs that might not be as effective. so, senator, your leadership should be commended. and i really, you know, thank you for your leadership. and i'm going to submit more of these specific stories from specific students and families to the record so people understand this isn't politics. this is just trying to do what's smart for our country and do what's right for these young people that are trying so hard. and thank you, senator. mr. whitehouse: madam president, i will yield the floor with appreciation to my colleague, senator lan tkraourbgs senator tester -- senator landrieu, senator tester and senator blumenthal to urge our colleagues to support the pell grant.
a senator: madam president? is it time to begin the republican time? the presiding officer: yes. mr. alexander: would you please let me know when i've used 4 1/2 minutes? the presiding officer: yes. mr. alexander: thank you madam president. last week during the debate on clean air in which i opposed overturning a rule that allows dirty air from other states to blow into tennessee, costing us jobs, hurting our health, i said why should we be picking on a good rule when the environmental protection agency is a happy hunting ground of unreasonable regulations? and i want to take just a moment to talk about perhaps the foremost of those unreasonable regulations which we call the boiler mact rule.
that is regulation that will force thousands of industrial boilers around america to install the maximum available control technology on their boilers. this is important in order to clean the air of such pollutants as mercury. that is a good idea. now, what is a bad idea, madam president, is e.p.a. only gives three years for companies to install this technology, a time frame that's completely unrealistic. this isn't like a lot of the other clair laws/rules that have been around for years. this is an unexpected new priewl on thousands of industrial boilers which are essential to our manufacturing jobs in america. so first its not enough time to comply with it. and then e.p.a. use add flawed methodology in order to figure out, in order to force companies to figure out what to do. and, as a result, little businesses and big businesses all over america are going to be
forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars that they could be spending on creating jobs to try to implement a flawed rule that doesn't work. now, that's just not one republican senator saying that. we have 12 democratic senators and a number of republican senators who have introduced legislation. senator collins will the leader of this effort. i'm a part of it. so is senator wyden, so is senator pryor, so is senator a landrieu. and what we're saying is, let's give the environmental protection agency enough time to fix the rule -- 15 months would be the time we've suggested. let's give the e.p.a. additional authority to be able to write a rule about the methodology of fuels that makes some sense, that doesn't act like it's delivered from mar mars or viner
some other planet. and then let's give the industries enough time to comply with the rules, instead of thrie years, which is what the -- instead of three years, which is what the rules suggest, five years. let me try to give some sense of the impact of this unworkable rule. a loss of 340,000 jobs nationwide is the estimate. we just passed in a bipartisan way here three trade agreements which the president said would create 250,000 jobs. it took us three years to do that. it was something that republicans and democrats agreed on. we thought that was a big step forward. yet here we're allowing this agency to go forward with an absolutely unworkable rule that will cost 340,000 jobs. in my state of tennessee, the cost to businesses are $530 million alone. i've talked to owners of small businesses who are facing a $1
million cost to try to implement this unworkable rule on their boiler, and they have told me they'll just close their plant. they can't possibly afford it. i've talked to large industries who are affected. eastman chemicals is one, been in tennessee forever. it is an important part of our state as the great smoky mountains r thousands of tennesseans work there. this is what they say. nearly $100 million over and above the work already planned to order -- they're going 0 spend more than $100 million over and above the work they've already planned in order to bring five eastman boilers into compliance with the e.p.a. regulation. this is a company with $7 billion in revenue. they're going to survive. but some jobs won't and they won't be able to create jobs with that money. they'll just be complying with an unworkable government regulation. the majority leader said on the floor, regulations don't cause jobs. thee here is a prime example
that unworkable regulations don't cost jobs and 12 democratic senators and at least as many republican senators agree on that. and we have a bipartisan way to fix it. and theous in an overwhelming bipartisan vote agreed with us by passing legislation in the same way. so, madam president, i want too call the attention of this collins-alexander-wyden-pryor- la collins-alexander-wyden-pryor-la ndrieu legislation to the public, to the senate and say, there are some regulations that are before us that need to be changed. they're costing jobs. this isn't republican rhetoric or democratic excuses. it's republicans and democratic saying to the e.p.a., we want to give you the authority to write a good rule. we want you to fix the rule. we want a clean air standard. we don't want to change the result. but we want enough time for you to write the rule. we want you to be able to write the right method so companies with comply, and we want to give
companies enough time -- the presiding officer: senator, you have consumed in our four and a half minutes. mr. alexander: i beg your pardon? the presiding officer: the time you asked for. mr. alexander: thank you, madam president. so this is a rare piece of legislation. something we agree on across the aisle that could immediately save 340,000 jobs, that keeps the clean air rule that the e.p.a. has proposed but systemly gives them time to write this properly, the authority to write it properly and businesses the opportunity to comply wit with t within a reasonable period of time. i hope we will adopt it. i thank the president and i yield the floor. i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. rubio: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed and that we be recognized to engage in a colloquy with senator coons for up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: thank you, madam president. we're going to start today by talking about job creation in america. and aid like to turn toafer -- and i'd like 0 turn it over to senator ciewns to begin this about an important piece of legislation we filed yesterday. mr. coons: thank you, senator rubio and i have come to the floor to talk about our shared experience. in my home state of delaware, i
have heard from hundreds, even thousands, of families and individuals looking for work, deeply hurt and challenged by the ongoing slow economic recovery, folks who have come to us asking for opportunities, for assistance, for promise and hope, and in reality i think one of the things that is causing some real concern in this country, in my state and most likely, madam president in yours and i think most likely in senator rube yows as well, is a -- in senator rubio's as well, is a concerning that we are not capable of getting past the partisanship. let me quote from a couple of letters that i have received from delawareans in the last few months. larches from milford wrote, congress needs to stop the political arguing and take positive action to make america rand our economy strong again."
janet wrote, i am the oarch after small small business. i have never seen it as tough as it is today. " and joseph in smyrna summed it all up in a letter he wrote, "our economy needs jobs now." delaware is a great place to grow a birks raise a family, to achieve success but we have the toughest economy we've seen in generations. madam president, the folks we represent expect us to act and they expect us to find ways to work together and to get past the partisan divide that has made it so difficult for us to make progress. senator rubio, what sorts of things have you heard from your constituents in florida and how has no motivated you to act? mr. rubio: thank you, senator coons. let me just point out a couple things. there are a lost issues in this process that we're not going to agree on and there is an ideological divide about a lot of major issues, the role of goflt, how do we get the economy growing again and what government can do about it. the people of america recognize
that. they recognize that issues are you would ultimately solved at the ballot box. people run for office an their visions of government's role and we're going to have one in november of 2012. what do we do now? do we just stand around and do nothing? do we continue to bring up pieces from both e-sides thieflt we know are going to fail or do we actually begin to act? there are a lost reasons that we need to afnlgt i want to share with you an e-mail that i received from stephanie. it breaks your heart. it is very typical of the ones thawfer a probably gotted and i bet you all of the other members of this institution have gotten. "i'm not sure who to turn to with this question. i was born and raised inful f as you know, the unemployment rate is horrible and i had to file for unemployment benefits for the first time ever and i was just informed that i exhausted my benefits. where do i turn for help? there are no jobs vaifnlt i search for a job daily and get excuses such as you don't have enough experience or you're overqualified or i'm suggested
to go a back to school. how will i go back to school if i have to money to go back to school." it goes on. "many people like myself have nowhere to turn. hopefully you can help me or at least suggest what i can do. thank you for your time." this is the voice of real desperation, of real people who want to work, have always worked and cannot find a jofnlt this is the number-one issue in america. there are a lot of issues floating around and they're important issues but this is the number-one issue in america, of everyday hardworking people who cannot find a job. can government create jobs for them? in government. but by and large there are things government can do to help create an environment for job creation. and so what we have done is we have sat down and we have analyzed what things have we agreed on? there are things that are in the president's plan that are also in the republican's plan that the house has passed, that our colleagues have filed. what we came up was this piece of legislation in a senator coons is going to describe in a moment. it is literally sitting down, a
collection of bills that we have agreed on and what people want to know is, i understand you're going to have arguments about the things you disagree on. but why are you arguing about the things you agree on? senator coons shall maybe this is a good segue to describe the measures that in this bill, the thing that we can act on right now to help people like stephanie and people in your home state and in every state of this country who are looking for some ray of hope that this process here in washington has an understanding of what we're they're going through. couldn't. mr. coons: we together yesterday introduced the "agree" act which convenientl conveniens out agree. the core principle was for a real republican and real democrat to look through all the different ideas that have been put out there in the president's jobs bill, by the president's jobs and competitiveness council, but members of the house and senate from both
parties that we could come to agreement on and to put them into a bill packaged to assemble all of these ideas and put them out and hope that we will pick up cosporks hope that it will pink steam and hope we can demonstrate to the american people, to the families that senator rubio and i have heard from in letters, e-mails and tweets who have expressed real concern. the basic big picture proposals in this bill, first, extending tax relief for small businesses. there's three different provisions that have already been in law that would be extended by this bill. for capital gains exclusion, for five-year investments in qualified small businesses, for accelerated depreciation, and for increased expensing, all of which would help small businesses invest in growth. encouraging cutting-edge research and innovation by make permanent the r&d tax credit and bading something to it that i remember think has real potential: an added incentive for companies who invest something here, to manufacture it here.
another commonsense relief, another idea championed by senator casey providing incentives to the tax code for veterans to become franchise owners and entrepreneurs and last areducing some immigration barriers that prevent highly skilled workers who've studied here from staying here and now really to the last point, protecting american businesses from intellectual property theft. strengthening our ability to prevent counterfeit goods from coming into american markets by fixing a small but real bear dwroar effective border protection against counterfeiting. all of these provisions, madam president, are provisions that have already enjoyed bipartisan support in other settings. we've simply assembled them together, put them into a commonsense package and want to move them forward. senator rubio, what soforts response has our action gotten so far from people in florida, around the country who might have contacted but this initiative? mr. rubio: it's been a very positive response. every time people open up a newspaper or turn on the television what they get from washington is bad news.
a week nag a speech i gave, i said it resembles professional wries 8ing to them. there are freedom the republican and democrat side that go on tv and scream at each other and people watch it and they get it. there are differences between us, but is there anything -- don't we all live in the same country? aren't we seeing the same economic conditions? are are they not hearing from that? let me tell you the impact. the impact is people get scared. imagine you are a job creator and you have money to invest this year. tough decide do i leave it in the bank or take this money and grope my business. the safe thing to do is leave it in the bank. what job creators want to do is grow their businesses. who doesn't want to grow their businesses? who doesn't want to add customers? now you have to make a decision. one of the things people look at is the political climate. are the people in charge of government in washington especially, what is their mind
frame? how are they working? are they getting things done? is it positive or negative things happening? we're not claiming this bill solves all of our economic problems but they are meaningful. if you're a small business looking to invest next year, capital investment in your business, this is an incentive to extend these tax credits to help you do that. more importantly, something else people will look at, they will be able to open up the newspaper one day and read republicans and democrats came together and passed a piece of legislation that they agreed on. and i don't think you can underestimate or, quite frankly, really measure the kind of psychological impact that that could have on job creators to actually have some optimism that the future will be better than the present, that tomorrow may be better than today. i think that as much as anything else is critical. all of us who serve in the senate, particularly those who serve in this institution -- the united states senate is a big deal. people pay attention to what we say here, the good stuff we say and the bad stuff we say. they pay attention to what we do
here and what we fail to do here. i think it's important for all of us to recognize that our actions have consequences and the way we speak and comport ourselves in these debates. and i think we need to recognize that some of the rhetoric and some of the noise that has been made in this process over the last six months to a year have hurt job creation because they created an air of negativity around economics of this country. we have an opportunity with passage of legislation like this to send a message that on the things we agree on we can actually get things done. that's been the impression i've gotten from people, a little bit of surprise but a lot of it is some sense of optimism that before this year is out we'll be able to pass legislation that is meaningful and bipartisan. is that the same reaction you've gotten? mr. coons: that's right, senator rubio. i have gotten an almost immediate response from facebook, twitter. i got a tweet, "kudos for introducing job-creating
legislation. good to see detailed plans rather than the endless partisan bickering." at wisconsin lady tweeted if agree is a jobs act that can get passed, i an american who cares deepably our unemployed says thanks. i got an e-mail, thank you for getting past party lines and coming together to propose commonsense solutions. last, ma r*eu -- maria e-mailed i think it is time to bring our party together, where we have people believing the american dream, where i thought my daughter and granddaughter str to live. business as usual in washington has to stop. through this bill you will both prove through fellow senators if you all work together, anything can be possible. to be clear, there are real differences. there are things that divide the parties. there is time i had for an election to resolve those fundamental differences in values, in approach, in
priorities. but while we can, we should come together with commonsense proposals that demonstrate to the american people, that we can take from republicans, democrats, from the house, the states and the president and put them in a package and pass them because 12 months is too long for us to wait. as we all wait this coming week for the outcome of the super committee, i know that confidence is one of the major things we have some concerns about. the confidence in the marketplace, the confidence to take risks and invest, the confidence to grow. and in my view, madam president, this bill, this initiative shows that both parties can and do have confidence in american inventors, american investors, american veterans and american entrepreneurs. i'm grateful for a chance to work on this. senator rubio, what's the next step and where do we go from here? mr. rubio: i hope the next step is to get as many people in this chamber and the house to sign on to this legislation and get it done. we're open to suggestions about how to improve it. maybe there are things we left out that should be in there.
maybe there are questions involving how these measures should work. we're open to suggestions now. we want to get the ball rolling. i know our time is short here and is about to run out. i want to recognize what you've recognized. one of the ways you lose credibility is when you exaggerate things. let's not exaggerate things in terms of the differences in our party. there are real ideological differences about the role of government, about what the tax code should look like, and we're going to debate those things. to my friends on the right, the left, the republican side and the democrat side, we have real differences and this is the place to do them. we are fortunate and blessed to live in a republic where we can debate our competing points of view about what the role of government are. there are things we agree on and these are the things we should work on. today is an open invitation to colleagues in the senate to join us, look at this bill, analyze it, see if there are things you'd like to add. maybe there are things we left out that should be in there. mortgage, the merrier.
to those who think there are things in this bill that should be in there, we're open to those as well. we want to get this done. we want to deliver something to the american people as soon as possible that shows here in washington, d.c. we can agree on the things we agree on. i think that would be a positive first step in the right direction on behalf of job creators. i think our time has expired. so with that, madam president, i yield the floor.
mrs. feinstein: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: what is the parliamentary status right now? the presiding officer: we're still in morning business. the republicans control 6 minutes 25 seconds. mr. alexander: madam president, we'll yield back the republican time so that we can move ahead to -- the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: madam president? the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 2354 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 157, h.r. 2354 an act making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2012, and for other purposes.
fine madam president, it's my -- mrs. feinstein: madam president, it's my understanding senator bingaman would like to speak on an amendment he has filed and senator murkowski may come down to speak on that amendment, which is fine. i'd like to urge senator bingaman to do that now. mr. bingaman: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. bingaman: madam president, i appreciate the opportunity to just speak briefly about an amendment that senator murkowski and i have filed. there is a provision in the bill, the energy and water appropriations bill which we're considering here in the senate that we would like to see stricken or deleted from the bill. and it's a provision in the legislation that mandates the sale of $500 million worth of
oil from the strategic petroleum reserve or the spro, as it's called. the bill also ends the royalty in kind program. and that part, i'm not disputing at this point. but the language in the bill that we're concerned about is on page 41, and it says in that part of the bill, it says "not withstanding various other provisions, the secretary of energy shall sell $500 million in petroleum products from the reserve not later than march 1, 2012, and shall deposit any proceeds from such sales in the general fund of the treasury." in the words of the department of energy, the strategic
petroleum reserve exists, first and foremost, as an emergency response tool which the president can use should the united states be confronted with an economically threatening disruption in oil supplies. the spro is our nation's insurance policy against oil supply disruptions and keeping the spro well stocked and operational is important to our energy security. and i believe that's a view shared by democrats and republicans. the spro became filled to its maximum capacity of roughly 728 million barrels for the first time in its history in the year 2009. the president, in the budget he submitted, the 2012 budget, he proposed a sale of oil from the spro that would generate $500 million in revenue from the federal treasury.
the administration explained that because the spro was at maximum capacity, it needed to sell off some oil for operational purposes. they needed a little extra space in the spro in order to move oil around within the system and to refurbish some of the underground salt caves in which the oil is stored. however, this past june there was an emergency drawdown, and there was a sale of 30 million barrels of spro oil. and i understand that the emergency sale generated more than $3 billion. this indicates to me that more than six times the amount of oil that the president thought was necessary to be sold for operational reasons have now been sold. clearly the president's proposal from february to create a little free space in this -- in the spro is no longer necessary.
the concern we have is that the spro sale provision in this legislation remains part of an appropriations bill, and the sale is no longer necessary for operational purposes. it is simply a way of generating revenue. i hope my colleagues will consider the long-term implications of using our strategic oil stocks just to generate revenue for the operation of government on a weekly and monthly basis. i believe this is a bad precedent. i believe we should reject this part of the legislation. if the opportunity presents itself to offer the amendment, i will be urging our colleagues to join us in deleting this provision and ensuring that any future revenue-generating sales from spro oil not be
accomplished or proposed simply to pay the ordinary operating bills of the various agencies covered by the legislation. madam president, i know my colleague from alaska is expected to come to the floor here in the next few minutes and give her views on this same legislation which she and i are cosponsoring, the amendment that i've just spoken about. but until then i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mrs. feinstein: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. we're in a quorum call. mrs. feinstein: i ask the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without
objection. mrs. feinstein: i want to thank senator bingaman for his comments. he has been an excellent chair of the committee. it is our understanding that these points were never brought to the committee. however, i'm told that the energy department has told my staff that the budget request is valid due to the department's need for operational flexibility. i would like everybody to know that the floor is open. if you filed an amendment, please come down to speak on it. if you want to file an amendment, please do so as quickly as possible. but the floor is open for amendments at this time. thank you, madam president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
ms. murkowski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: madam president, i ask that proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: thank you. i have come to the floor to discuss a provision from the energy and water appropriations bill that apparently senator bingaman has just spoken to. this would require the sale of $500 million worth of oil from our nation' nation's strategic m
reserve, spro. i think it would set a dangerous and unsustainable precedent for the future. as i understand it, the administration first requested this sale in its fiscal year 2012 budget proposal and justified it by asserting that there was an integrity issue in one of the camps where the spro oil -- in one of the calf earns where the spro oil was stored. we heard this some months asmg they asserted that the sale was necessary because d.o.e. had to drain the oil in that cavern. the committee subsequently authorized the sale in its version of the bill which was then released in june. so at that point in time based on d.o.e.'s representation, it was -- i guess it was kind of hard not to argue that this sale
was not justified. but then events took a different course. several weeks later as part of a coordinated effort with the iaea to increase global supplies, the president chose to sell about six times more crude from the spro than the house had originally contemplated. now, whether you supported that sale or not, i think it would have been reasonable to assume or to expect that the administration would sell the crude from the calve earn that needed the -- the cavern that needed the repairs. when an announced sale comes, you would think that they would take the oil from that cavern thereby solving at least one of the problems and obviating the need for future maintenance-related sale. enough oil has now been sold from our emergency reserves to fill not one but six troubled
caverns. the only justification that really can be made now is the need for more cash. we need more money. given that background, i would encourage that the senate consider that selling $500 million worth of ash emergency oil -- -- wonch our emergency oil reserves, it's like character out our insurance policy in order to cover the cost of a mortgage that we can't afford in the first place. the spro was designed to be that emergency safety net, if you will, or really like an insurance policy. remember, there's a very good reason why we have this insurance policy in the first place. congress created the spro in the aftermath of the oil embargo back in the 1970's to serve as a safety net in any event that we were to see a major supply disruption. given the volatility that
continues to churn the global markets, our strategic stockpile is arguably more important today than ever before. so as long as we maintain a large volume of oil within the spro, we will ensure that americans have some level of protection against future disruptions. and if we decide not to take the long view, we face the very real risk of being forced to spend more tomorrow, to repurchase that oil that is being sold today. you may ask, well, how likely is any kind of a future disruption? and i would tell you that the odds are still higher than we would like. our nation remains roughly 50% depend on foreign oil, importing -- dependent on foreign oil, costing hundreds of billions of dollars a year. the world is not exactly stable. large involves libyan oil remain off-line. iran continues to provoke its
neighbors, saudi arabia's leadership is aging rapidly, leaving the door open to perhaps future unrest and upheaval. china, india, many of the other countries are rapidly expanding their oil scum sthon and, in the meantime, forging close relationships with major suppliers that can be leveraged in times of emergency. here at home, the federal government continues to hinder the development of new supplies that would improve our energy security and reduce the need for a strategic reserve. we've seen development halted or delayed in alaska up in the northern part of the state, in the rocky mountain west, a number of other areas. the new five-year leasing plan for offshore development does take a few small steps, but it keeps both the atlantic and the pacific coasts under a de facto motomoratorium through at least 20156789 the administration has also delayed its decision on the keystone excel pipeline.
this would have carried significant volumes of canadian oil, oil from an ally, a neighbor, that would have brought that into this country. the result is that we're not doing in my opinion, nearly enough to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. so we still need a strategic petroleum reserve and we cannot treat it like a national a.t.m. that can be tapped when the money is tight here. it's just not the reason that we should have or utilize the spro. i want to share a quote from a witness who testified before the energy committee earlier this year, his name is kevin book, a real expert on energy policy, and i think he made quite an expression on our committee. he encouraged us to seek out alternatives to petroleum, but he also said, and i'll quote him here, "selling oil out of the strategic petroleum reserve to pay for efficiency gains and alternative fuels could
seriously diminish u.s. energy security without necessarily delivering financial benefits." that's the end of his quote. for anybody that might interested, i'm happy to provide a copy of his testimony. i think it was really quite useful in understanding why this approach is really just not appropriate at this point in time. so, madam president, as we seek to pay for legislation that comes before us, whether it's this appropriations bill or something else, i continue to believe that one of our best paths forward is to produce more, produce more of our own abundant resources and then put the resulting federal revenues to good news. in-- to good use. we should instead put policies in place that expand on the one hand z and accelerate the pace at which we develop our immense natural resources. right now alaska has about 40 billion barrels of oil that are just waiting to be tapped for the good of the nation. i keep saying that we've got
money that's buried in the ground up there. if we harness those resources and more of the resources in the gulf of mexico, the rocky mountain west, we would be dramatically increasing our energy security. we'd create tens of thousands of new jobs, generate billions and billions of dollars year after year that could be. mr. reid: to both deficit reduction a and the development of new energy technologies. madam president, i would. ms. murkowski: i would encourage the senate to support any amendment that strikes the spro provision in this bill and encourage us instead to focus on the development of a more viable long-term energy policy. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: